Sleeping Around

PJ loves to sleep around. He has never seen a bed that he doesn’t like. Or a couch. He sleeps in his bed some nights, my bed when he naps during the day and the bed in the guest room on alternate nights. ( So much for me keeping the guest room ready for guests). Of course, I have very few guests, because most people would rather stay somewhere without an autistic person in residence.  Every once in a while, a relative or a friend from out of town will be brave enough to stay with us.

He sleeps on every couch, including the one that I consider my “good” couch. He carries his cover with him when he chooses a couch. There is a small love seat couch in the basement and he has even tried that one, but he is so tall that he was uncomfortable and that couch is not in his rotation. He takes his shoes off the minute he gets home from his day program, finds something to eat and then finds a place to lay his head.

When he had bunk beds, he would alternate, one night in the lower bunk, one night in the upper bunk. He likes so much sameness and routine in his life that his sleeping habits surprised me. If you are the parent of a child with autism, you know how hard it is to stop them from doing something that they really want to do, so he has freedom of choice.

One day when he was a teenager, he had disappeared. I knew that he had not left the house, but I could not find him. I looked in every room and in the basement, but he was not to be found. Just short of panic, I decided to look everywhere again. I found him in one of the beds. He was not under the cover, he was under the mattress, so it was easy to miss his the first time around.

His being under the mattress  alarmed his father and would have alarmed me if it were not for Temple Grandin. She said that she needed the deep pressure on her body, which is why she invented her squeeze box. She used to get under the pillows on the couch and have her sister sit on her before her invention. I am sure that you know who Temple Grandin is if you have a person with autism in your life.

He often disappeared under the mattress. When he would finally get up, his body would be soaking wet with sweat and he would smell like vinegar. I believe that some chemical or hormone got released when he gave himself these treatments.  He had found his own way to make himself feel better. By the time he turned 22 or 23, he stopped this behavior, but every once in a while, he still has that vinegary smell.

He loves hotels. When we were traveling more, he was in the bed as soon as we checked in. The bed and the swimming pool were all that he needed. Since 911, I have not traveled with him. What a nightmare it would be to have to go through airport security with him. He is big and intimidating looking even when he is calm.

I don’t often take him to visit anyone, but on the rare occasions that we would visit my mother or my daughter, PJ would select a bed to get in. There he would stay for the duration of the visit, which actually made it easier to visit. He does not like a lot of chatter or laughter, so we were free to chat without him.

He gives a whole new meaning to the term “sleeping around”.  He has been the greatest education of my life along with the greatest challenge.

Until next time; May the Power of God protect you: May the Love of God enfold you.

Claudreen Jackson


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